In school, Quinton says he played football for one semester, but he was always more interested in the arts. He did some theater before landing a small role in the 2008 film Be Kind Rewind. Then, Quinton and his mother read about the Michael Oher role.

"We both said: 'This is us. This is me. I have to do this because the character fit, and it was a lead role," he says. "When else would that happen?"

Quinton's mother went online and submitted him for the role. Sadly, she passed away before he was cast. "But I know she's smiling down on me, proud of her boy," he says.

Before strapping on the shoulder pads, Quinton endured eight weeks of intense football training with Georgia Tech's strength and conditioning coach. "By the time we started to shoot, I did look like an athlete," he says. "I was a lot more physically capable of pulling off the football."

Michael's personality was easier for Quinton to master. "We're both known as gentle giants," he says.

John Lee Hancock, the film's director, asked Quinton to put himself in Michael's shoes during emotional scenes. "Because me and Michael were similar in a lot of ways, in terms of personality, he wanted me to be myself with the role," Quinton says.


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